A Challenge for Moral Realists
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
02-01-2016, 12:30 AM
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
(01-01-2016 02:42 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(01-01-2016 12:45 PM)Reltzik Wrote:  So the linguistic ability to define the concept and describe emotions is prerequisite to caring about the concept of "all the other critters like me"? All that requires is empathy, and we've seen empathetic behavior in most social mammals.


Yet this logic occasionally breaks down with humans. Why can't it break down with other species? Let's say there IS a species where individuals have some knowledge of the scope of their extent. Perhaps the species is prevalent over only a small range and so it's possible for individuals to know, if not every other individual, at least a rough sense of where the larger groups/tribes/flocks/packs/whatever are. Or maybe they have a really long-range communication ability, similar to whales.


Like, say, risking its life to confront a predator that threatens the young of its species, even if those aren't its own offspring or the offspring of anyone in its family or social group? Or just confronting those predators on general principle whenever they have sufficient numbers, even at personal risk? We've seen that.

Overall, I'm inclined to agree with the claim that humans are one of the few, and quite possibly the only, species on Earth capable of embracing abstract concepts like the notion of the entire species being endangered by something. I'm just wondering if there is evidence equal to the claim.

You give no evidence that this ever happens, and there is no reason to believe that any other animals have the information gathering ability or cognitive powers to know or care about their species as a whole.

Animal behavior has been studied extensively and these behaviors are not seen, and evolutionary models of selection have been shown to be accurate showing no evidence of it.

Animals turning on a potential predator (not the best of videos, but...)





I see this sort of thing fairly frequently around where I live, with a potential predator being swarmed by overwhelming numbers of potential prey. (Hawks will quite happily pick sparrows out of midair if they have the height, surprise, and appetite.) Note that the hawk was not engaged in attacking either the sparrows or their offspring; it was just minding its own business.

Is this a clear case of "defense of the species"? No. It's not contrary to such an act, but it's not clearly such an act either. It goes to the only particular claim I made that you COULD ask for evidence for, that sometimes prey animals will unite at risk to themselves to attack a predator.

You advanced a particular claim that humans were the only species that could concern themselves with the survival of their species at large. You provided no evidence for this claim other than an in-principle discussion of evolutionary pressures, as if that made the point.

I questioned whether this was good evidence. I noted that it should apply to humans as well and does not appear to. Let me also add now that concerning oneself with the survival of one's species, even at personal risk, is NOT contrary to evolutionary pressures, as the extinction of the species will also result in the death of oneself, one's progeny, potential mates for oneself and one's progeny, and all social assistance that those individuals might have received from the rest of the species. Taking some steps and even risks to ensure the survival of the species is hardly contrary to genetic survival. This does not seem to be an applicable counter to the notion that no animal outside of humanity can concern itself with the survival of its own species.

Now let's talk burden of proof.

You provided a specific claim about humanity being unique in this respect. I suggested that this claim was lacking evidence, and asked you to provide it. You did not. Again, I lean towards this opinion myself, but I think the position was stated overly strongly, questioned what evidence there was for it, and even if there COULD be evidence for it.

So. Party A makes a specific claim, party B asks for evidence of it (while indicating a leaning towards that claim), party A complains that party B hasn't offered evidence against the claim. Who has the burden of proof?
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
02-01-2016, 09:36 AM
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
(01-01-2016 02:38 PM)unfogged Wrote:  
(01-01-2016 12:45 PM)Reltzik Wrote:  ... actually, it might be collaborate in the case of his references.

There's a definition of collaborate that makes sense in the context "I will find references that collaborate with my beliefs"? The people who created the supposed references may have collaborated with each other but I don't see how a reference itself could collaborate, especially with a belief.
Yes, I used the wrong word.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
02-01-2016, 08:31 PM
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
Alright. I've done this crap like five times.

For this reason I will be posting references of relevent findings seperately.

Gonna clear my cache and see if that might help.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
02-01-2016, 08:33 PM
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
SCIENTISTS DISCOVER THROUGH STUDYING TODDLERS THAT HUMANS ARE INHERENTLY ALTRUISTIC, NOT SELFISH

FEBRUARY 10, 2015
Tresha Barrett
Humans are said to be selfish, and the assertion that greed is good has been followed. But is altruism really an illusion? Though evolutionary theorists have a tendency to focus on competition and the ruthlessness of natural selection, they often find themselves not being able to explain one crucial fact — that humans could not have survived in nature without the charity and social reciprocity of a group.


German researchers have discovered that infants as young as 18 months display altruistic behavior, which suggests that humans have a natural inclination towards being helpful.

In experiments reported in the journal Science, toddlers helped strangers complete tasks such as stacking books and picking up something that was dropped.

Young chimps did the same, providing the first direct evidence of altruism in non-human primates.

The study suggests that altruism may have evolved six million years ago in the common ancestor of chimps and humans.



Scientists have long debated what leads people to “act out of the goodness of their hearts” by helping non-relatives, regardless of any benefits for themselves.

Human society depends on people being able to collaborate with others — donating to charity, paying taxes, and so on — and many scientists have argued that altruism is a uniquely human function, hard-wired into our brains.

“This is the first experiment showing altruistic helping towards goals in any non-human primate,” said Felix Warneken, a psychologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

“It’s been claimed chimpanzees act mainly for their own ends; but in our experiment, there was no reward and they still helped.”


According to the BBC, Dr. Warneken and colleague Professor Michael Tomasello wanted to see whether very young children who had not yet learned social skills were willing to help strangers.

The experimenters performed simple tasks like dropping a clothes peg out of reach while hanging items on a line, or mis-stacking a pile of books.

Nearly all of the group of twenty-four 18-month-olds helped by picking up the peg or the book, usually in the first 10 seconds of the experiment.

They only did this if they believed the researcher needed the object to complete the task — if it was thrown on the ground deliberately, they didn’t pick it up.


“The results were astonishing because these children are so young – they still wear diapers and are barely able to use language, but they already show helping behavior,” said Felix Warneken.



The pair went on to investigate more complicated tasks, such as retrieving an object from a box with a flap.

When the scientists accidentally dropped a spoon inside, and pretended they did not know about the flap, the children helped retrieve it. And they only did this if they believed the spoon had not been dropped deliberately.

The tasks were repeated with three young chimpanzees that had been raised in captivity. The chimps did not help in more complex tasks such as the box experiment, but did assist the human looking after them in simple tasks such as reaching for a lost object.

“Children and chimpanzees are both willing to help, but they appear to differ in their ability to interpret the other’s need for help in different situations,” the two researchers write in Science.

Another study found that 3- to 5-year-olds tend to give a greater share of a reward (stickers, in this case) to a partner who has done more work on a task — again, without being asked — even if it means they get to keep less for themselves. And those cries of “That’s not fair!” that plague sibling relationships: they’re not only selfish, they reflect children’s apparently innate desire for equity.

Fundamental tendencies toward altruism aren’t only seen in children, either. Worldwide, the aftermath of natural disasters are typically characterized by heroism and a sharing of resources — within the affected community and in others farther way — not selfish panics as many are made to believe. During the terrorist attacks of 9/11, for example, there were no accounts of people being trampled rushing out of the World Trade Center towers. Rather, those who needed assistance descending were cared for, and calm mainly prevailed. The same occurred after the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown in Japan in 2011. The cases in which people stampede or look out only for themselves tend to be rare and involve very specific circumstances that mitigate against helpfulness.

Our stress systems seem to be designed to connect us to others. They calm down when we are feeling close to people we care about — whether related to us or not — and spike during isolation and loneliness. According to Time, even short periods of solitary confinement can derange the mind and damage the body because of the stress they create. And having no social support can be as destructive to health as cigarette smoking.

Of course, none of this is to say that humans are never selfish or that we don’t have a grasping, greedy part of our nature. But, “the father of economics,” Adam Smith’s belief that humans are inherently selfish may not hold true after all.



Maybe competition isn’t natural and war is in fact avoidable – so much time has been spent highlighting and saying the bad in human nature is stronger than the good, but what if it’s not? What if our natural instinct is to be altruistic, and fighting it means we’re actually going against our grain?

http://www.inquisitr.com/1828310/scienti...ish-video/
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
02-01-2016, 08:40 PM
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists



#sigh
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes GirlyMan's post
02-01-2016, 08:50 PM
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
And by the way; I have helped to raise two children and have observed many. In solitude most are prone to be outwardly kind and giving unless upbringing has shown them to be otherwise.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
02-01-2016, 08:55 PM
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
(02-01-2016 12:30 AM)Reltzik Wrote:  
(01-01-2016 02:42 PM)Chas Wrote:  You give no evidence that this ever happens, and there is no reason to believe that any other animals have the information gathering ability or cognitive powers to know or care about their species as a whole.

Animal behavior has been studied extensively and these behaviors are not seen, and evolutionary models of selection have been shown to be accurate showing no evidence of it.

Animals turning on a potential predator (not the best of videos, but...)





I see this sort of thing fairly frequently around where I live, with a potential predator being swarmed by overwhelming numbers of potential prey. (Hawks will quite happily pick sparrows out of midair if they have the height, surprise, and appetite.) Note that the hawk was not engaged in attacking either the sparrows or their offspring; it was just minding its own business.

Is this a clear case of "defense of the species"? No. It's not contrary to such an act, but it's not clearly such an act either. It goes to the only particular claim I made that you COULD ask for evidence for, that sometimes prey animals will unite at risk to themselves to attack a predator.

You advanced a particular claim that humans were the only species that could concern themselves with the survival of their species at large. You provided no evidence for this claim other than an in-principle discussion of evolutionary pressures, as if that made the point.

I questioned whether this was good evidence. I noted that it should apply to humans as well and does not appear to. Let me also add now that concerning oneself with the survival of one's species, even at personal risk, is NOT contrary to evolutionary pressures, as the extinction of the species will also result in the death of oneself, one's progeny, potential mates for oneself and one's progeny, and all social assistance that those individuals might have received from the rest of the species. Taking some steps and even risks to ensure the survival of the species is hardly contrary to genetic survival. This does not seem to be an applicable counter to the notion that no animal outside of humanity can concern itself with the survival of its own species.

Now let's talk burden of proof.

You provided a specific claim about humanity being unique in this respect. I suggested that this claim was lacking evidence, and asked you to provide it. You did not. Again, I lean towards this opinion myself, but I think the position was stated overly strongly, questioned what evidence there was for it, and even if there COULD be evidence for it.

So. Party A makes a specific claim, party B asks for evidence of it (while indicating a leaning towards that claim), party A complains that party B hasn't offered evidence against the claim. Who has the burden of proof?

As I said, there is no evidence that any other species could even have the awareness of their species as a whole.
Your conjecture is lacking in substance.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
[Image: flagstiny%206.gif]
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
02-01-2016, 09:24 PM
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
Cognition and emotion

Luiz Pessoa (2009), Scholarpedia, 4(1):4567. doi:10.4249/scholarpedia.4567 revision #91134 [link to/cite this article]
Post-publication activity

Curator: Luiz Pessoa

Dr. Luiz Pessoa, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN



Figure 1: Contrast of viewing fearful and neutral faces. Large portions of occipitotemporal cortex are more strongly driven by fearful faces. The arrows point to the fusiform gyrus, a ventral temporal area that is strongly driven by face stimuli. Adapted with permission from the National Academy of Sciences: Pessoa et al. (2002b), copyright (2002).
The relationship between cognition and emotion has fascinated important thinkers within the Western intellectual tradition. Historically, emotion and cognition have been viewed as largely separate. In the past two decades, however, a growing body of work has pointed to the interdependence between the two.

Contents [hide] 
1 Introduction
2 Perception and attention
3 Memory and learning
4 Behavioral inhibition and working memory
5 Impact of cognition on emotion
6 Anatomical basis for cognitive-emotional interactions
7 Conclusion: from interactions to integration
8 References
9 Recommended reading
10 External links
11 See also
Introduction

Cognition refers to processes such as memory, attention, language, problem solving, and planning. Many cognitive processes are thought to involve sophisticated functions that may be unique to primates. They often involve so-called controlled processes, such as when the pursuit of a goal (e.g., maintaining information in mind) needs to be protected from interference (e.g., a distracting stimulus). A prototypical example of a neural correlate of a cognitive process is the sustained firing of cells in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex as a monkey maintains information in mind for brief periods of time (Fuster and Alexander, 1971; Kubota and Niki, 1971). With the advent of functional MRI (fMRI), it appears that cognitive processes engage cortical regions of the brain (Gazzaniga et al., 2008).

Whereas there is relative agreement about what constitutes cognition, the same cannot be said about emotion. Some investigators use definitions that incorporate the concepts of drive and motivation: emotions are states elicited by rewards and punishers (Rolls, 2005). Others favor the view that emotions are involved in the conscious (or unconscious) evaluation of events (Arnold, 1960) (i.e., appraisals). Some approaches focus on basic emotions (Ekman, 1992) (e.g., fear, anger), others on an extended set of emotions, including moral ones (Haidt, 2003; Moll et al., 2005) (e.g., pride, envy). Strong evidence also links emotions to the body (Damasio, 1994). Brain structures linked to emotion are often subcortical, such as the amygdala, ventral striatum, and hypothalamus. These structures are often considered evolutionarily conserved, or primitive. They are also believed to operate fast and in an automatic fashion, such that certain trigger features (e.g., the white of the eyes in a fearful expression (Whalen et al., 2004)) are relatively unfiltered and always evoke responses that may be important for survival. Accordingly, an individual may not be necessarily conscious of a stimulus that may have triggered brain responses in an affective brain region, such as the amygdala. For discussion, see (Ohman, 2002; Pessoa, 2005).

Because of the inherent difficulty in providing clear definitions for both cognition and emotion, they will not be further defined here. We now turn to illustrating some of the interactions between emotion and cognition. Given the enormous scope of this topic, by necessity, this review will be relatively narrow in scope and will emphasize the brain systems involved in the interactions between emotion and i) perception and attention; ii) learning and memory; and iii) behavioral inhibition and working memory. Other valuable sources include (Damasio, 1994; LeDoux, 1996; Damasio, 1999; Dolan, 2003; Rolls, 2005; Phelps, 2006). A key conclusion from this review and from other current discussions of the relationship between cognition and emotion is that it is probably counterproductive to try to separate them. Instead, current thinking emphasizes their interdependence in ways that challenge a simple division of labor into separate cognitive and emotional domains. In particular, in the context of the brain, the general dichotomization alluded to above in terms of cortical-cognitive and subcortical-emotional brain areas is now viewed as largely simplified and breaks down rather quickly when more in-depth analyses are carried out; e.g., (Pessoa, 2008).

Before proceeding, however, a brief historical note is in order. The emotion/cognition debate came into sharp focus with the report of the mere-exposure effect (Kunst-Wilson & Zajonc, 1980), which led to a strong belief that affect was primary to and independent of cognition. It can be said that the mere-exposure effect and other behavioral findings shifted ongoing debates to focus on affect as being related to unconscious processing and subcortical activity, with cognition being related to conscious processing and cortical involvement. Interestingly, behavioral findings were interpreted in the context of the “low route” suggested by LeDoux (1996), which was purported to carry affective information subcortically. These early behavioral studies provided a strong impetus to the wave of neuroscience research in the late 1990s (and beyond) that investigated related phenomena. For some of the early theoretical arguments, see Fazio et al. (1986), Leventhal & Scherer (1987), Bornstein (1989), Lazarus (1994), Zajonc (1994), and Bargh (1997); also see Storbeck, Robinson, & McCourt (2006) and Storberk (2008).

Perception and attention

Viewing emotion-laden visual stimuli is linked to heightened and more extensive visual system activation (Pessoa et al., 2002a; Vuilleumier, 2005). For instance, viewing faces with emotional expressions evokes increased responses relative to viewing neutral faces throughout ventral occipitotemporal visual cortex ( Figure 1).

Visual responses are also stronger when subjects view emotional scenes (e.g., a war scene) compared do neutral scenes (e.g., a lake scene). Increased visual activation is observed in both late visual areas, such as the fusiform gyrus and superior temporal sulcus, and early visual cortex in occipital cortex. Recent studies suggest that, in humans, even retinotopically organized visual cortex, including visual areas V1 and V2 along the calcarine fissure, are modulated by the affective significance of a stimulus (Padmala and Pessoa, 2008).

Enhanced visual activation when viewing emotional stimuli is consistent with the observed improvements in behavioral performance in several visual tasks. For instance, angry and happy faces are detected faster in visual search tasks (Eastwood et al., 2001), and possibly other emotional stimuli, too, such as a snake or spider (Ohman et al., 2001) compared to neutral stimuli. Stronger evidence comes from studies of the attentional blink paradigm, in which subjects are asked to report the occurrence of two targets (T1 and T2) among a rapid stream of visual stimuli. When T2 follows T1 by a brief delay, participants are more likely to miss it, as if they had blinked (hence the name). The attentional blink is believed to reflect a capacity-limited processing stage, possibly linked to a process of consolidation of the detected item for conscious reports. Interestingly, the attentional blink has been shown to be modulated by emotional stimuli, as subjects are significantly better at detecting T2 when it is an emotion-laden word (e.g., rape) than when it is a neutral word (Anderson, 2005). Converging evidence for a link between perception, attention, and emotion comes from additional studies. For example, patients with unilateral inattention due to spatial hemineglect (often as a result of right hemisphere parietal lesions) are better at detecting happy or angry faces compared to neutral ones (Vuilleumier and Schwartz, 2001). These findings are consistent with the notion that emotional faces may direct the allocation of attention. For instance, in one study, emotional faces were flashed at spatial locations that subsequently displayed low-contrast visual stimuli (Phelps et al., 2006). They found that detection of the target was strongest when the fear face served as the spatial cue, suggesting that emotional stimuli can provide additional attentional guidance above and beyond a generic spatial cue. How is the increase in perceptual processing and attentional capture that is observed during the perception of affective stimuli mediated in the brain? Growing evidence links the amygdala, a subcortical region, with these effects.



Figure 2: Functional brain imaging results in humans support a role of the amygdala in modulating visual responses to emotional stimuli. Patients with medial temporal lobe sclerosis who have lesions involving the hippocampus alone (upper row) show normal activation of the fusiform cortex when contrasting fearful vs. neutral faces (right), as do healthy subjects (not shown). Patients with additional lesions involving the amygdala (lower row) show no effect of fear expression in visual cortex. However, fusiform cortex is still normally activated in both patient groups when they perform a task on faces relative to houses (left). These results suggest that amygdala damage can have distant functional consequences on the activity of visual cortex, selectively affecting emotional modulation. Adapted from Vuilleumier (2005), Trends Cogn Sci, How brains beware: neural mechanisms of emotional attention, copyright (2005), with permission from Elsevier. Original data from (Vuilleumier et al., 2004).
For instance, patients with amygdala lesions do not exhibit improved detection of T2 emotional targets during the attentional blink (i.e., a decrease in the magnitude of the blink effect) (Anderson and Phelps, 2001), and show less evidence of increased responses in visual cortex during the viewing of fearful faces (Vuilleumier et al., 2004); see Figure 2.
Thus, it appears that the amygdala may underlie a form of emotional modulation of information that in many ways parallels attentional effects that are observed with non-emotional information (Pessoa et al., 2002a; Vuilleumier, 2005). There are several ways in which emotional modulation may be accomplished. First, it is possible that direct projections from the amygdala to visual processing regions enhance visual processing. The amygdala sends projections across all levels of the visual system, including anterior regions in temporal cortex and posterior regions in occipital cortex (including V1 and V2) (Amaral et al., 1992). Thus, the amygdala is well situated to modulate sensory processing according to the affective significance of a visual object. A second possibility is that the amygdala interacts with other brain regions that are important for the control of attention, such as frontal and parietal regions (Barbas, 1995), which, by their turn, modulate visual processing. In the latter scenario, the amygdala (possibly indirectly) would recruit attentional circuits so as to enhance the sensory processing of emotion-laden stimuli.

A final issue that should be addressed when considering interactions between emotion and perception/attention is whether the perception of emotion-laden stimuli is automatic, namely independent of attention and awareness. This question has received considerable attention because specific answers to this question (no or yes) suggest potentially different relationships between emotion and cognition (more or less independence between the two, respectively). Interestingly, evidence both for and against automaticity has been presented. For instance, emotional faces evoke responses in the amygdala even when attention is diverted to other stimuli (Vuilleumier et al., 2001; Anderson et al., 2003). Perhaps even more strikingly, amygdala responses are sometimes reported for emotional faces of which subjects are not conscious (Morris et al., 1998; Whalen et al., 1998; Etkin et al., 2004; Whalen et al., 2004). Furthermore, cases of affective blindsight have been reported. These and other related findings suggest that at least some types of emotional perception occur outside of cognitive processing – and may rely on direct subcortical pathways conveying visual information to the amygdala (LeDoux, 1996). At the same time, recent findings have suggested that the perception of emotion-laden items requires attention, as revealed by attentional manipulations that consume most processing resources, leaving relatively few resources for the processing of unattended emotional items (Pessoa et al., 2002b; Bishop et al., 2004; Pessoa et al., 2005; Bishop et al., 2007; Hsu and Pessoa, 2007; Lim et al., 2008). Furthermore, it also appears that amygdala responses evoked by unaware stimuli depend somewhat on the manner by which awareness is operationally defined (Merikle et al., 2001), such that no unaware responses are observed when awareness is defined, for instance, via signal detection theory methods (Pessoa et al., 2006). Overall, the automaticity debate remains unresolved and controversial (Pessoa, 2005; Wiens, 2006; Bishop, 2007).

Memory and learning



Figure 3: Fear learning in the human amygdala. (a) The outlined box contains the area of the medial temporal lobe that includes the bilateral amygdala. (b–d) Amygdala activation to the CS is seen bilaterally after fear conditioning (b) and observational fear learning ©, and unilaterally (d) in the left amygdala after instructed fear. Reprinted by permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd: Nature Neuroscience (Olsson and Phelps, 2007), copyright (2007).
Research on classical fear conditioning suggests that the amygdala is involved in the acquisition, storage, and expression of a conditioned fear response – such as when an animal learns that a neutral stimulus (e.g., tone) predicts an aversive event (e.g., mild shock). Whereas fear conditioning is believed to involve a more primitive form of affective learning, instructed fear illustrates a situation in which cognition and emotion interact more explicitly ( Figure 4C).


Figure 4: Nonsocial and social fear learning in humans. An individual learns to fear a CS through its pairing with (a) an electric shock to the wrist (fear conditioning), (b) a learning model’s expression of distress (observational fear learning), and © verbal information about its aversive qualities (instructed fear). Reprinted by permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd: Nature Neuroscience (Olsson and Phelps, 2007), copyright (2007).
In this paradigm, subjects are verbally informed of the possibility of an aversive event given the presentation of one type of neutral stimulus (e.g., tone), while the presentation of another neutral stimulus (e.g., light) indicates that the aversive event will not occur. Interestingly, instructed fear generates robust physiological results to the threat stimulus that resemble the responses to a conditioned stimulus (e.g., tone) in fear conditioning, even though the aversive event is never administered to the subjects (only a verbal threat occurs) (Hugdahl and Ohman, 1977; Phelps et al., 2001) ( Figure 3D). Research with humans indicates that the left amygdala appears to be necessary for instructed fear (Funayama et al., 2001). Another example of cognitive-affective learning involves observational fear, in which an acquired fear response is learned via social observation ( Figure 4B). In this case, both humans and nonhuman primates are capable of learning the affective properties of stimuli through observing the emotional reactions of a conspecific (Ohman and Mineka, 2001). As in the case of instructed fear, observational fear results in the expression of conditioned fear that is similar to the one observed during fear conditioning (Olsson and Phelps, 2004) ( Figure 3C).
Emotional content can change the formation and recollection of a memory event, consistent with findings in both human and animal studies. Compared to neutral items, humans remember better emotionally arousing information, including emotionally charged stories, film clips, pictures, and words. For instance, in one study participants viewed two videos, one composed of neutral film clips and another composed of emotional film clips (Cahill et al., 1996). Although the two types of clips were taken from the same source and were equated in terms of levels of understandability, subjects were better at remembering emotional relative to neutral clips when tested approximately 3 weeks following the initial viewing of the films. In another study (Bradley et al., 1992), subjects viewed a large array of emotional and neutral pictures from the International Affective Picture System, a stimulus set that has been normed in terms of the dimensions of valence (positive/negative) and arousal (calm/excited). Participants initially rated the pictures along the dimensions of valence and arousal. An incidental free-recall test was administered both immediately and at one year following the rating sessions. Pictures rated as highly arousing were remembered better than all other pictures, including those rated as moderately arousing. Interestingly, the pattern of results was very similar when the subjects were tested a year later, namely, highly arousing pictures were better remembered.

In humans, the amygdala is known to be a critical structure for the enhancement of memory by emotion, consistent with both lesion (Adolphs et al., 1997) and neuroimaging work (for a review, see Phelps, 2004). Recent studies have begun to delineate some of the specific functions of this structure. For instance, it appears that the right amygdala is more strongly involved in emotional memory formation, whereas the left amygdala is engaged by the retrieval of those memories (Sergerie et al., 2006), suggesting a potential hemispheric dissociation of amygdala involvement at different stages of emotional memory. In addition, amygdala responses are also linked to a novelty effect on memory tasks – i.e., the tendency to classify items as new as opposed to old (Sergerie et al., 2007).

In humans, there is some support for the notion that the enhancement of memory due to emotion is due mainly to the arousal dimension of emotional items and not valence (positive/negative) per se (Phelps, 2006), a notion that is more firmly established in nonhuman animal studies (McGaugh, 2004). In these studies, the effects of emotion on memory have been revealed by a vast array of experimental manipulations, including inhibitory avoidance training, contextual fear conditioning, cued fear conditioning, water-maze spatial and cued training, among others. Typically, the effects of emotion on memory are investigated via drug administration, including agonists and antagonists of specific brain receptors. For instance, in one experiment, rats were trained to swim to an escape platform after being placed in a water tank (Packard et al., 1994). To mimic the effects of arousal, a group of animals received an injection of d-amphetamine immediately after training; a control group received a saline injection.


Figure 5: Projections from the basolateral complex of the amygdala to other brain areas involved in memory consolidation. Reprinted from McGaugh (2002), Trends Neurosci, Memory consolidation and the amygdala: a systems perspective, copyright (2002), with permission from Elsevier.
Behavioral testing revealed that d-amphetamine administration in the amygdala enhanced memory both on a spatial task and on a non-spatial cued task. A growing body of animal studies strongly supports a model in which emotion influences memory by modulating memory storage (McGaugh, 2004). In particular, the amygdala and the closely associated basal forebrain system involving the stria terminalis appear to play a major role in this modulatory process. These structures are thought to play a central role on memory consolidation by modulating activation in a network of brain regions, including the hippocampus, which is centrally involved in memory formation, but also additional brain structures, such as the nucleus accumbens, caudate nucleus, entorhinal cortex, in addition to other cortical regions (McGaugh, 2002) ( Figure 5). Behavioral inhibition and working memory

An important dimension of cognition involves behavioral inhibition. Response inhibition, namely the processes required to cancel an intended action, is believed to involve control regions in prefrontal cortex (e.g., dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and inferior frontal cortex) (Rubia et al., 2003; Aron et al., 2004). Response inhibition is often investigated by using so-called go/no-go tasks in which subjects are asked to execute a motor response when shown the go stimulus (e.g., press a key as fast as possible when you see a letter stimulus), but to withhold the response when shown the no-go stimulus (e.g., do not respond when you see the letter Y). Typically, the go and no-go stimuli are shown as part of a rapid stream of stimuli (e.g., a sequence of letters). A recent study investigated the interaction between the processing of emotional words and response inhibition (Goldstein et al., 2007). Response inhibition following negative words (e.g., worthless) engaged the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Interestingly, this region was not recruited by negative valence or inhibitory task demands per se; instead, the dorsolateral cortex was sensitive to the explicit interaction between behavioral inhibition and the processing of negatively valenced words.

Working memory, another important cognitive operation, involves the maintenance and updating of information in mind when the information is no longer available to sensory systems (e.g., when keeping a phone number in mind for a few seconds before dialing the number). Evidence for cognitive-emotional interaction comes from working memory studies, too.


Figure 6: Emotion-cognition interaction in prefrontal cortex. Lateral prefrontal activity reflected equally the emotional and working memory task components, revealing the integration of emotional and cognitive processes in prefrontal cortex. Adapted with permission from the National Academy of Sciences: Gray et al. (2002), copyright (2002).
For instance, when participants were asked to keep in mind neutral or emotional pictures, maintenance-related activity in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was modulated by the valence of the picture, with pleasant pictures enhancing activity and unpleasant pictures decreasing activity relative to neutral ones (Perlstein et al., 2002). Interestingly, emotional pictures did not affect dorsolateral responses during a second experimental condition during which participants were not required to keep information in mind, indicating that the modulation of sustained activity by emotional valence was particular to the experimental context requiring active maintenance. In another study, participants watched short videos intended to induce emotional states (e.g., clips from uplifting or sad movies), after which they performed challenging working memory tasks (Gray et al., 2002). Bilateral lateral prefrontal cortex activity reflected equally the emotional and working memory task components ( Figure 6). In other words, prefrontal activity did not stem from the working memory task alone or by the mood ensuing from the viewing of the video, but resulted from an interaction between cognition and emotion.
Impact of cognition on emotion

Although this short review focuses on the impact of emotional content on cognitive functions, here we briefly discuss another important line of studies that has investigated cognitive-emotional interactions, namely, cognitive emotion regulation (Ochsner and Gross, 2005; Ochsner and Gross, 2008). A particularly informative regulation strategy is “cognitive reappraisal”, which involves rethinking the meaning of affectively charged stimuli or events in terms that alter their emotional impact. Reappraisal appears to depend upon interactions between prefrontal and cingulate regions that are frequently implicated in cognitive control and systems like the amygdala and insula that have been implicated in emotional responding. Interestingly, having the goal to think about stimuli in ways that maintain or increase emotion may boost amygdala activity whereas having the goal to decrease emotion may diminish it. Furthermore, changes in emotional experience and autonomic responding may correlate with the concomitant rise or fall of prefrontal and/or amygdala activity. Although much of the work on the cognitive regulation of emotion has relied on a relatively strict separation between cognition and emotion, which are in this context viewed as engaged in tug-of-war for the control of behavior, this framework is likely overly simplistic. As proposed by Ochsner and Gross (2008), a more fruitful approach will entail developing an integrated framework for specifying what combinations of interacting subsystems are involved in emotional responding, as individuals exert varying degrees and types of regulatory control over their emotions.

Anatomical basis for cognitive-emotional interactions

In attempting to understand the relationship between emotion and cognition, it is important to consider anatomical information. Advances in our understanding of brain connectivity suggest that a given brain region is only a few synapses away from every other brain region(Sporns et al., 2004; Sporns and Zwi, 2004). Indeed, it appears that the brain is configured according to a small-world topology in which the path length between nodes is small – typically, cortical areas are connected directly or via just one or two intermediate areas (Hilgetag et al., 2000; Sporns et al., 2000) – and nodes are highly clustered (Sporns, 2006). Thus, a careful consideration of brain connectivity is informative in understanding potential cognitive-emotional interactions.

In the past decade, several quantitative analyses of brain connectivity have been undertaken (Young et al., 1994; Stephan et al., 2000). Not surprisingly, prefrontal areas are among those most distant from the sensory periphery, suggesting that they receive highly-processed and integrated sensory information. Such potential insulation of the prefrontal cortex from the periphery is thought to be a key anatomical feature of this region and presumably confers the primate brain with a greater degree of flexibility (Mesulam, 2002). Highly processed information would also be able to support more abstract processing that is required for cognition. Interestingly, the amygdala, a region often linked to emotional processing, appears to be equally removed from the sensory periphery – although in some species, direct sensory thalamic projections may be present (LeDoux, 1996). In addition, the amygdala makes very widespread projections. Overall, it appears that the amygdala is very well situated to integrate and distribute information ( Figure 7).


Figure 7: Brain connectivity graph. Quantitative analysis of brain connectivity reveals several clusters of highly interconnected regions (represented by different colors). In this analysis, the amygdala (Amyg, centre of figure) was connected to all but 8 cortical areas. These connections involved multiple region clusters, suggesting that the amygdala is not only highly connected, but that its connectivity topology might be consistent with that of a hub that links multiple functional clusters. In this manner, the amygdala may be important for the integration of cognitive and emotional information. Figure labels represent different cortical areas with the exception of Hipp (hippocampus) and Amyg, which represent subcortical areas. Figure reproduced from Young et al. (1994) with permission from Freund Publishing House Ltd. Analysis of connectivity: Neural systems in the cerebral cortex, Reviews in the Neurosciences; copyright (1994).
It is also instructive to consider the connectivity of the hypothalamus (Risold et al., 1997), as it has been long recognized for its importance in emotional behaviours (Swanson, 2000, 2003). In particular, via its descending connections that innervate brainstem motor systems, this structure is thought to play a key role in the implementation of goal-directed behaviors. Hypothalamic signals also can be conveyed to the cortex, mostly by way of the thalamus. Critically, prefrontal cortical territories project directly to the hypothalamus. Thus, the hypothalamus appears to be organized in such a way that it can generate both relatively reflexive behaviors and behaviors that are voluntarily triggered by inputs from the cerebral cortex (Swanson, 2000). Overall, this structure appears to be connected with all levels of the nervous system, including the neocortex (Swanson, 2000), enabling important hypothalamic regulatory signals to have widespread effects on the brain.

It is also important to consider the role of the ascending systems. For instance, the basal nucleus of Maynert is a major part of the so-called magnocellular basal forebrain system (Heimer and Van Hoesen, 2006). The projections from this system reach all parts of the cortical mantle (Heimer and Van Hoesen, 2006), and are involved in cortical plasticity in sensory cortex in the context of classical conditioning (Weinberger, 1995), in addition to arousal and attention mechanisms (see citations in (Sarter and Bruno, 2000; Heimer and Van Hoesen, 2006)). In particular, basal forebrain corticopetal cholinergic projections appear to be crucial for diverse attentional functions, including sustained, selective, and divided attention (Sarter and Bruno, 1999; Sarter et al., 1999; Sarter and Bruno, 2000). Of importance in the present context, the basal forebrain receives both cortical and amygdala inputs (for citations, see (Sarter and Bruno, 2000)). Notably, recent anatomical evidence suggests the existence of specific topographically organized prefrontal-basal forebrain-prefrontal loops (Zaborszky et al., 1999; Zaborszky, 2002; Zaborszky et al., 2005), so that specific prefrontal cortical targets of the basal forebrain connect back to sites from which the corticopetal fibers originate. Such loops provide a direct substrate for cognitive-emotional integration, for example by allowing amygdala signals to be broadcast widely, including to frontoparietal regions known to be important for the control of attention. More generally, the overall anatomical arrangement of the basal forebrain may involve multiple functional-anatomical macrosystems (Alheid and Heimer, 1988; Zahm, 2006) with wide-ranging effects on brain computations and important clinical implications (Alheid and Heimer, 1988; Sarter and Bruno, 1999). In summary, the picture that emerges from anatomical connectivity data suggests a remarkable potential for integration of information.



Figure 8: Potential relationship between anatomical sites, neural computations and behaviors. Brain areas (for example, A2), which are connected to form networks (ellipses), are involved in multiple neural computations (for example, NC2, NC3 and NC4) and specific computations (for example, NC4) are carried out by several areas (for example, A2 and A3). Therefore, the structure–function mapping is both one-to-many and many-to-one; in other words, many-to-many. Multiple neural computations underlie behavior. Each behavior has both affective and cognitive components, indicated by the affective and cognitive axes. Note that the axes are not orthogonal, indicating that the dimensions are not independent from each other. Brain areas with a high degree of connectivity (hubs) may be especially important for regulating the flow and interaction of information between regions. Reprinted by permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd: Nature Neuroscience (Pessoa, 2008), copyright (2008). See (Mesulam, 1990) for a related scheme.
Conclusion: from interactions to integration

Historically, emotion and cognition have been viewed as separate entities. One factor that may have contributed to this separation in the past century is methodological. For instance, data arising from single-unit or lesion studies usually allow the researcher to only derive conclusions concerning the specific areas being targeted. Research in the past two decades suggests, however, that such a view is likely deficient and that, in order to understand how complex behaviors are carried out in the brain, an understanding of the interactions between the two may be indispensable. Indeed, some studies have suggested that it may be important to go beyond understanding interactions, some of which are suggested to be mutually antagonistic, to understanding how cognition and emotion are effectively integrated in the brain. As stated recently, at some point of processing functional specialization is lost, and emotion and cognition conjointly and equally contribute to the control of thought and behavior (Gray et al., 2002). While these statements were offered as a summary of specific findings concerning working memory performance following mood induction (see above), they may aptly characterize a vast array of real-world situations. In other words, whereas many behaviors may be reasonably well characterized in terms of cognitive-emotional interactions such that emotion and cognition are partly separable, in many situations, true integration of emotion and cognition may also take place ( Figure 8). The latter further blurs the distinction between cognition and emotion. See Duncan and Barrett (2007) for a similar view.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
02-01-2016, 09:26 PM (This post was last modified: 02-01-2016 09:29 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
I like you pops and your metaphysics ain't much different than mine. You just suck at presenting it is all.

#sigh
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
02-01-2016, 09:37 PM
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
Biological Altruism
First published Tue Jun 3, 2003; substantive revision Sun Jul 21, 2013
In evolutionary biology, an organism is said to behave altruistically when its behaviour benefits other organisms, at a cost to itself. The costs and benefits are measured in terms of reproductive fitness, or expected number of offspring. So by behaving altruistically, an organism reduces the number of offspring it is likely to produce itself, but boosts the number that other organisms are likely to produce. This biological notion of altruism is not identical to the everyday concept. In everyday parlance, an action would only be called ‘altruistic’ if it was done with the conscious intention of helping another. But in the biological sense there is no such requirement. Indeed, some of the most interesting examples of biological altruism are found among creatures that are (presumably) not capable of conscious thought at all, e.g. insects. For the biologist, it is the consequences of an action for reproductive fitness that determine whether the action counts as altruistic, not the intentions, if any, with which the action is performed.

Altruistic behaviour is common throughout the animal kingdom, particularly in species with complex social structures. For example, vampire bats regularly regurgitate blood and donate it to other members of their group who have failed to feed that night, ensuring they do not starve. In numerous bird species, a breeding pair receives help in raising its young from other ‘helper’ birds, who protect the nest from predators and help to feed the fledglings. Vervet monkeys give alarm calls to warn fellow monkeys of the presence of predators, even though in doing so they attract attention to themselves, increasing their personal chance of being attacked. In social insect colonies (ants, wasps, bees and termites), sterile workers devote their whole lives to caring for the queen, constructing and protecting the nest, foraging for food, and tending the larvae. Such behaviour is maximally altruistic: sterile workers obviously do not leave any offspring of their own—so have personal fitness of zero—but their actions greatly assist the reproductive efforts of the queen.

From a Darwinian viewpoint, the existence of altruism in nature is at first sight puzzling, as Darwin himself realized. Natural selection leads us to expect animals to behave in ways that increase their own chances of survival and reproduction, not those of others. But by behaving altruistically an animal reduces its own fitness, so should be at a selective disadvantage vis-à-vis one which behaves selfishly. To see this, imagine that some members of a group of Vervet monkeys give alarm calls when they see predators, but others do not. Other things being equal, the latter will have an advantage. By selfishly refusing to give an alarm call, a monkey can reduce the chance that it will itself be attacked, while at the same time benefiting from the alarm calls of others. So we should expect natural selection to favour those monkeys that do not give alarm calls over those that do. But this raises an immediate puzzle. How did the alarm-calling behaviour evolve in the first place, and why has it not been eliminated by natural selection? How can the existence of altruism be reconciled with basic Darwinian principles?


Actually going back to read the rest of this one.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: